Talk:Alphabet song

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Songs (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Songs, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of songs on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the quality scale.
WikiProject Education (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Education, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of education and education-related topics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.


I'm not sure *where* my variant comes from; at first I was thinking it might be a local Canadian one, but the fact that it uses the pronunciation "zee" for "Z" (look at the rhymes) makes me think not. -- Paul Drye

Haddocks Eyes[edit]

how is Haddocks Eyes related to the alphabet song? -- Tarquin

I for one have no idea. It seems more related to "The House that Jack Built". Removed the link. --Anonymous


"(z = zee to rhyme with v, not zed)"[edit]

This was not true where I learned it (Ontario, Canada.) I don't believe this is how it's universally sung. Jonathan Grynspan

I agree. I added a note reflecting the assertion to American and British English differences, which was quickly deleted, so I also assume it can be sung with zed. I guess the lack of rhyme is not troubling to non-Americans. After all, American children call Chicken Licken Chicken Little, which throws that rhyme out. Joestynes 07:43, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I've tried another wording to see if we can get the 'disputed' off the page. My big question is, where does the 'what does {letter} say' song come from? I suspect it is regional. Niteowlneils 18:22, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Actually I remember reading a study about how the younger generation in Canada was starting to pronounce z as "zee" rather than "zed" due to the popularity of the rhyming version of the alphabet song [1]. I don't know if this should be reflected in the article somehow. --DropDeadGorgias (talk) 04:13, Apr 8, 2005 (UTC)
I learnt it with the line "W X Y Z you see", so that we could sing "zed" but still get a rhyme. I can't find anything about this version online, though; does anyone know anything about it? smithers888 (talk) 12:18, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

We always used to repeat the 'LMNOP', further encouraging the view that it was a seperate letter. And our ending was different. "...U V W X Y Z. X Y Z, Butter on your bread. If you don't like it you'll have to go to bed." This also means that ours had drifted from the original tune somewhat, and it rhymed. 14:04, 27 January 2006 (UTC) (Skittle)

The alphabet song?[edit]

Does anyone outside the USA label it as such? Otherwise, it would be somewhat POV to single this one out for mention. If this particular one was officially renamed "The Alphabet Song" then it might be filed as such ... but would C. Bradlee (or indeed anybody who covered it commercially) have ever renamed it to be "The alphabet song" with a lowercase "a" and "s"?

Here in the UK, I suppose most of us are acquainted with this version only through Sesame Street in the days when it was shown over here. We probably have quite a few alphabet songs. One my mum taught me when I was little was set out rather like this

A B C D E F G,
X, Y, Z

One of my primary school teachers also knew one to the tune of Jack and Jill.

-- Smjg 10:57, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

My dad, who grew up in Ireland, taught me the following version. I don't know how commonplace it was. It was sung to a completely different melody, which is difficult to describe through text, but I'll try to give the general idea through emphasis:

A-b C-d E-f G-h I-j K-l M
n O-p Q-r S-t U-v W X-y Z

The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

Okay, so I tried typing the version I remember into Melodyhound today and got "f''4 f''8 f''4 f''8 f''4 f''8 f''4 f''8 f''4 f''8 g''4 f''8 e''4 r4 e''8 e''4 e''8 c''4 c''8 e''4 e''8 c''4 c''8 e''8 f''8 e''8 d''4 c''8 ais'4". Completely tone deaf, but you get the idea. So then I pressed the Search thing and got My Old Man['s a Dustman]!
So the version I learned goes something like
My old man's a dustman
A b C d E f
_ He wears a dustman's hat _
G h I j K l M _
_ He wears cor- blimey trousers
_ n O p Q r S t
_ And-he lives in-a coun-cil flat _
U v Double-yu X y Zed _
(except with the q, r, u, and v dropped by a semitone or so (and the lines go A b c d e f g/H i j k l m/N o p q r s t u/V w x y z)). Hmmm, pretty much like Jack and Jill, then.—Dah31 (talk) 03:39, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
By the way I learned version user Smjg mentioned above in scool, great song - really helps to remember english alphabet -- Xil/talk 23:35, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

I asked 4 people who went to primary school in 1950s England, and they all sang the alphabet to the twinkle, twinkle tune when asked, "When you were little, did you learn a song to help you remember the alphabet?". But no-one knew it as "the alphabet song".HJMG 09:18, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

alphabet chant[edit]

My mother used to teach me the alphabet through a song similar to a military chant. I think it went:

A B C D E and F
U V W X Y Z —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:42, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Alternate grouping[edit]

A version supposedly favoured at one time in California, either by the state university or the DOE, grouped the letters thus:

O P Q, R S T

and otherwise used the usual closing lines and the French melody. Thought it worth a mention. knoodelhed 04:05, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

This is also the version taught in some international schools too, like in Japan and China. It should be noted that this version has three advantages over the original grouping: 1.) it avoids the confusing "lmnop" cluster (elemental pee) 2.) there is one less rest in the song, namely between W and X, since the letters are more evenly spread, 3.) there is no "and" between y and z, therefore eliminating the confusion of thinking that "&" is an actual letter of the alphabet.

The only advantage I can think for the original is that it consistently rhymes in the American pronunciation of Zee. For education purposes, this grouping seems far more logical.

Thegargoylevine (talk) 03:06, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Non-English alphabet songs?[edit]

I would guess most languages have some kind of alphabet song? Do they have articles? I don't ever recall learning one in German class, although Spanish had one that goes something like (sung quite quickly):

Aah Bay Say, Chay Day Eh, Effay Hey Aahchey larey
E. hota kah el-lay, emmay, ennay, E. ennyeah
ennyeah, oh, pay coo erray, erray essay tay E. ooh
bay day baca, double-lay ooh, icky see zeta laroo

Then there's also that crazy Three Stooges song, "B.A. Bay, B.E. Bee, B.I. Bicky-bye, B.O. B'oh, Bicky-bye B'oh, B.U. Boo, Bicky-bye B'oh Boo; C.A. Say, C.E. See", etc. Schizombie 02:50, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Regarding foreign versions, I did learn one in German class (same rhythym as English except for the last line, and the third line was repeated):

Ah Bay Tsay Day Ay Ef Gay
Ha Ee Yot Ka El-Em-En-O-Pay
Ku Er Es Te Uu Fau Vay
Ku Er Es Te Uu Fau Vay
Iks Upsilon Zet (Zed? Tsed?)

I wonder, though, if the original version was English and the foreign ones were made up to help English speakers learn the foreign alphabets, rather than for foreign children to learn their own? --Tocharianne 17:36, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

I'd like to see more information about non-English and non-Latin alphabet songs and chants. I was taught the Greek alphabet as a chant with a humorous rhyming line, but with no music. GMcGath 19:29, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

The last line of the German version of the song is rather:
Iks Iks Iks Iks Upsilon Zet - Juhe! Das ist das ganze ABC.
English translation of the last part: Hurrah! This is the whole ABC.
And that's how the song would be written in German:
A Be Ce De E eF Ge
Ha I Jod Ka eL eM eN O Pe
Qu eR eS Te U Vau We
Qu eR eS Te U Vau We
iX iX iX iX Ypsilon Zet, Juhe!
Das ist das ganze ABC!

--Stl 21:10, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Verify template[edit]

Is there anything else which requires verification within this article? The {{verify}} template is resting atop this article, but I'm not sure why its there or what needs to be sourced exactly. Can't sleep, clown will eat me 23:13, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

This template has been removed since no one has specified why it was still needed. If there are specific concerns please address them here on this talk page. Can't sleep, clown will eat me 19:07, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Misspelling in "summer camp" alphabet song[edit]

"Klaustrophobia" could not be used in the K-word line: First, the correct spelling begins with a C. Second, even if the word were intentionally misspelled as a joke, that joke works only in writing: someone hearing this song could not tell the difference between a K and a hard C.

Incidentally, the lyrics look as if this were a parody of the love song "A, You're Adorable" (although it imitates only part of the original). Should the article mention this? ISNorden 16:11, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Other lesser-known alphabet songs[edit]

The Atomic Alphabet (?)[edit]

I originally posted this segment of this other "alphabet song" on the article page. I have now removed it to this talk page because I realized that it does not help the article. The song in question is not an actual alphabet song used by or for children, AND it is not well-known. It is a punk song that happens to use the alphabet, in a way reminiscent of children's alphabet songs, for artistic purposes.

Initially, I had hoped someone would add an attribution for this song, because I cannot find any mention of it online. No one has added an attribution, underscoring that the song really is obscure or forgotten.

An alphabet song, heard once on the radio (1980s?):

A is for the atom bomb
B for bee and bone

C for civilazation D. for (sounds like, but is not...) diroccimont E for evolution F for fighting mother nature

G, I love you baby
H, I hate you too'

I I idolize you J I jappadize you K I keep for you to keepin while I'm going L for Lover M is for the morning N is for the night O for omen P for people Q for quiet life R for revolution S for something steady T for two and tea for me like the twidle.............. U is V is for W for wonder now here comes mister X be Y for me and me for you Z for Zero Z for Zoo z for Zulu here we go

Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvw xyz

then repeat, then alfabet backwards...

--Whiner01 03:10, 15 August 2006 (UTC) The mentioned song is "A-Z" from Steve Gibbons. Lyrics is "A is for the Atom Bomb - B for Being Born..." - released Polydor 1980 from the album Street Parade --- — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:53, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Don't have a source other than the top of my head - I remember I found an old tape from my brother with Steve Gibbons band I remember I listened to this song over and over to try to singalong with it when they did the alfabet backwards which was really hard until I had practiced quite a lot. Mind you I was only 7 years old in 1981 and my mother tongue is Norwegian and I had not learned any english more or less at the time...


English alphabet[edit]

From the History of the page: 11:06, 1 December 2006 PBS (The Latin alphabet means more and less than the 26 letters of the English alphabet, See Italian alphabet and Danish alphabet for examples.

The English alphabet uses 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, but different alphabets which are based on the Roman alphabet letters, use more or less letters than the English alphabet. I think this confusion arises because for historical reasons the computer and telecommunications industries based their "Basic Latin alphabet" on the 26 letters of the English alphabet (see Latin alphabet and international standards and ISO/IEC 646). If during the 1960's Italy had dominated the computer and telecommunication industry then the number of letters in the Basic Latin alphabet might well have bee the 21 used in the Italian alphabet. So I think to equate the Latin alphabet with the English alphabet is a systemic bias that people who are fimilar with installing software on PCs make. --PBS 11:30, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Here's a version[edit]

Here's a version I can't find any reference for, but I definitely knew this long before Sesame St came along. Not very educational, but if I or anyone can find a ref, maybe we can put it into the article somewhere?

lmnop is watching me,
so I can't say my a-b-c.

--Nigelj 14:11, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Origins of Letter Order[edit]

Okay so in this article, the origins of the song are explicitly stated but what I'm left wondering is where the order of the alphabet came from... Logically, most would put the song ordered with vowels first then consonants or vice-versa but the consonants and vowels are mixed in the rhymes used to remember them in every country no matter what language. So, did the order occur because of the rhyme or was it something else??

Actually, the Latin alphabet got most of its letter order from the Greek alphabet, which got most of its order from the Phoenician alphabet, etc. going back to the fourteenth century BC. I don't know how it originated, but alphabetical order is clearly much older than the song. Lunaibis (talk) 20:11, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Different version again[edit]

There is one my wife knows which goes like this:

A b-C d-E f-G h-I j-K l-M
(clap clap)
N-o P-q R-s T-u V W-X-Y-Z

It's sung at a much faster tempo and also separates all the letters, including the L-M-N-O-P run (even so far as including two quick claps in between it). - Gohst 11:33, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Yep - I also know this version (assume we're thinking of the same tune) without the clapping. I would have separated it up so you can see the rhythm like so: abc. de,fg. hi,jk,lm. no,pq. rs,tu. vwxyz. (with a zed). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:42, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

The version posted by 'Gohst' was the version we learned at primary school (England, 1980s) but without the claps. It rhymes the 'em' with the 'zed' (sort of), as Z wasn't pronounced 'zee'. Any chance of it getting added to the main article? Ubertoaster (talk) 12:54, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Backwards variant[edit]

So, I know I've heard a backwards variant of the ABCs. It's song to the same melody as the traditional ABCs. The first time I remember hearing it was on Lamb Chop's Play-Along.

L-k-j, i-h-g,
F-e-d, c-b-a,
A little practice, and you won't go wrong,
Then, you can sing this backwards song.

Don't know if this can be verified, and/or should be another article, or included in this one. . .but, just thought I'd throw in my two cents.

--KevinDM84 03:02, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

I think my Dad taught me this version, which he got from his Dad, who was a librarian -
Z Y X, W V
U T S, R Q P
O N M, L K J
I H G, F E D, and C B A
smithers888 (talk) 12:30, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Confusion over an entry[edit]

The "ABC's abroad" has this:

x,y,z ''z-(as in zed)

Can this be clarified? It is not obvious what is going on after z... is z sung twice? Does the single quotation mark refer to a pronunciation that must be followed? -Rolypolyman

Germany and Japan[edit]

Why has somebody given the section the heading "In other languages"? The first one has been given in English. Is this a song in German that somebody has translated to English here, what Germans use when learning English, or what?

The Japan one doesn't have any words given, so it could be in almost any language that uses the Latin alphabet, and Japanese doesn't. Which is it? And are the "many variations of the last two ""now I know my A-B-C's"" lines" sung in English, translated to Japanese or what? -- Smjg (talk) 16:59, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Just added {{contradict}}. Moreover, if they really are "in other languages" as stated, we should give the words both in the other language and translated into English. -- Smjg (talk) 21:28, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Alphabet Song Example[edit]

I just can't find (non proprietary) audio example of this song on Wikipedia, but I found this free sample: --Popski 09:32, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

There's one (musical, with written lyrics) on the following gov't website (hence not copyrighted): (which also has lots and lots of other childhood songs available). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wiki-ny-2007 (talkcontribs) 00:25, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Balkans Version - Write As You Read[edit]

Balkans (ex Yu) would probably read English letters right if they write them like this:

A (ej), B (bi), C (si), D (di), E (i), F (ef), G (dži), H (ejdž), I (aj), J (džej), K (kej), L (el), M (em), N (en), O (ou), P (pi), Q (kju), R (ar), S (es), T (ti), U (ju), V (vi), W (dabl ju), X (eks), Y (vaj), Z (zi)

It looks ugly, I know, but it's useful for those who don't have speakers! :) --Popski (talk) 11:37, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

Ay Aa Ah?[edit]

To me, this is /eɪ/ /ɑ:/ /ɑ:/, leaving the /æ/ sound unmentioned. Is this the way it's meant to be? If so, why has /ɑ:/ been written in two different ways?

Moreover, what are the asterisks meant to mean in the same lyrics? What is a "leading sound", anyway? -- Smjg (talk) 18:03, 17 August 2008 (UTC)


Jerome (4th century) in his Epistle CVII "ad Laetam" mentions an alphabet song ("canticum") as well as ivory or boxwood blocks with letters on them when giving advice to a friend on how to educate her daughter. It seems these things are pretty old. Rwflammang (talk) 21:46, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

"In Other Languages" - Australia[edit]

I've lived in Australia my entire life, and never heard anything like this. Can anyone cite it? We're typically taught the ordinary lyrics. (talk) 13:55, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I'm another Australian, and I've never heard this variation of ths song (talk) 06:51, 3 September 2009 (UTC)


What's up with the weird pronunciation guide next to the lyrics of the song? It makes sense to clarify letter pronunciation, especially for any letters which may be variable (like 'Z'), but do we really need a guide on how to pronounce the last two lines? Looks like somebody has been smoking a little too much IPA. — atchius (msg) 19:12, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Christmas Alphabet[edit]

Surely a quick mention of Dickie Valentine's 1955 Christmas Alphabet is worthy here, even though it only spells out Christmas, rather than the alphabet:

C is for the Candy trimmed around the Christmas tree
H is for the Happiness with all the family
R is for the Reindeer prancing by the window pane
I is for the Icing on the cake as sweet as sugar cane
S is for the Stocking on the chimney wall
T is for the Toys beneath the tree so tall
M is for the Mistletoe where every one is kissed
A is for the Angels who make up the Christmas list
S is for old Santa who makes every kid his pet
Be good and he'll bring you everything in your Christmas Alphabet

Skinsmoke (talk) 08:40, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Name that Tune[edit]

The modern tune used to sing along to the alphabet is Mozart's Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. What was sung before this was composed?

Shtanto (talk) 21:40, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Big Bird's alphabet song?[edit]

How can the article mention Sesame Street without mentioning Big Bird's alphabet song?! ...Ab-ker def-gee jekyll man-op-qua stoove wux-zee! It's even got it's own Wikipedia page, so I think it deserves a mention. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:52, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

Additional citations[edit]

Why and where does this article need additional citations for verification? What references does it need and how should they be added? Hyacinth (talk) 06:38, 10 March 2012 (UTC)


As touched on in the above header 'The alphabet song?' the article refers to US tradition only. The standard alphabet tune here in the UK is, as I understand it, that of 'Jack and Jill went up the hill,' altho the difference of context can make it unrecognisable to hearers.-- (talk) 15:26, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

Baa Baa Black Sheep[edit]

In Australia (for me anyway) Baa Baa Black Sheep has a different, slightly more complex melody than Twinkle Twinkle. It is similar though, with minor differences in the sixth and eighth bars and only the second and seventh bars significantly differing. We don't repeat the opening lines at the end of the song stopping after "One for the little boy who lives down the lane" in the eighth bar. I think the reference to Baa Baa should be "similar to" Baa Baa, not "the same as" or maybe just delete it and leave the Twinkle reference. Danielklein (talk) 11:28, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Rhyming Zed?[edit]

The examples in the excerpt I've pasted below do not demonstrate anything about the accommodation of "zed" that they claim to demonstrate.

Aside from the omission of a period after "z" in the second version, how are they different from each other?

Variants of the song exist to accommodate the zed pronunciation. One variation shortens the second line and lengthens the last, to form a near-rhyme between N and zed:

    w, x
    y and z.
    Now, I know my ABCs.
    Next time, won't you sing with me?

 In UK

    w, x
    y and z
    Now, I know my ABCs.
    Next time, won't you sing with me?

-- (talk) 19:11, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

There was a version of the A-B-C song I discovered on youtube that matched the description given Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page).